APLF Hong Kong has cut the finish line of its 35th edition by hosting 813 exhibitors from 23 different countries, and with the knowledge that, as explained by the fair’s director Michael Duck, “2018 has been a year characterized by deep changes for the leather industry, due to a multitude of reasons”. Which ones? The “slowness of the demand for footwear” and “the suffering of tanners due to a decrease in volumes and prices, along with the first slow-down of China’s automobile market in the last 20 years”. All these problems are emphasized by the concerns over “the trade war between China and the USA”, but partially mitigated by the success of the largest luxury-goods’ multinationals that “have pushed the sector’s numbers with their excellent results in the accessories department”. The usual song, but it couldn’t be any different, seen that the globalization of markets is equal to the globalization of any problem that arises. The result: “Quite a slow start”, said an operator of the raw material segment, echoing what stated by a commerce agent of a Veneto-based tannery: “There were lots of people, but the question is: doing what?”. Aldo Donati, of Ausonia, answered the question: “the truth is that APLF has started slowly, but it couldn’t be otherwise. Our Chinese clients haven’t stopped being interested in our products, but they keep on telling us that they are waiting”. For what? To have certainty regarding the duties being imposed by the United States. “So, they arrived here, they sampled the goods, but now they wait for a confirmation before they order. Which has very often not been arriving in these last few months”. This stand-by is caused by outside forces of the market, but it also has to do with particular economic reasons. Silvia Polli, from Manifattura di Domodossola, explained that in fact, “the Chinese market responds to specific products, like the ones we make, and most of all to belts: we note, therefore, that the clients were there, they’re just buying less. But after all, it’s the same as everywhere else in the world”. The fact remains, said Iacopo Ceccatelli of Incas, that “China’s marketplace offers grand opportunities. We are trying to strengthen the relationships we have with clients so that we may find new ones and offer them very specific products”. Which ones? “Vegetable-tanned variations of the veal products we have: natural, artisanal, yet produced on an industrial scale”. While on the ovine front, Solofra-based Gama’s (attending APLF for the first time), spokesperson, Gabriele Giarletta concluded by saying that “the focus should be shifted to laminated leather, very lively goods, but one must be very careful when it comes to their prices, and minimum samples and orders”.
In picture, Ausonia tannery’s stand and the area trend of APLF.